Bishop Kearney High School has become the first ever Catholic School to pilot Matilda Cuomo’s New York State Mentoring Program.
Created by Cuomo at the request of her husband, then-Governor Mario Cuomo, in 1984, the New York State Mentoring Program was the nation’s first statewide unique school-based one-to-one mentoring program aimed at preventing school dropouts.
From its inception, up until its pause in 1994, the program helped prevent at least 10,000 students from walking away from school. That success inspired Cuomo’s son, the current Governor Andrew Cuomo, to reinstate the program in 2015, and name his mother as chair.
“I reinstated the original New York State Mentoring Program and put back at the helm the woman who established and chaired the program, the one who knew my father and understood his legacy more than anyone: my mother,” writes the governor in an official statement on the program’s website. “Any one of us can be a mentor and make a difference in the life of a child. I brought this program back because I believe in New Yorkers, their values, and their understanding that when one does better, we all do better.”
At Kearney, juniors will be mentors to elementary school students who need support and confidence. According to school officials, these juniors will meet with their mentees at the Bensonhurst school under the guidance of a faculty member. Through the program, they will make use of skills developed in an intensive training program by serving as one-on-one mentors to struggling students.
Cuomo recently paid a visit to Bishop Kearney to mark the historic addition to her program. She was joined by school principal Geri Martinez, chairpersons of the school’s academic departments, Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello and several of her own aides, including Laura Pedone, a Bishop Kearney graduate, Class of 1984.
The program is also underway at two Brooklyn public high schools, Midwood and James Madison.